During the roughly two decade long period in which Kim Il Sung was consolidating his power in the new Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (popularly called “North Korea”), North Korean Christian leaders had full knowledge that the state was marching inexorably toward the systematic and intentional annihilation of all Christians.
Remarkably, however, the focus of these North Korean church leaders was not on how to hunker down and survive the churning hurricane of Christian genocide.
Instead, they strategized how they could advance the gospel in the teeth of their own destruction. They asked themselves and God, “How can we continue to be church in the most Christian-hostile nation in human history?”
They selected four “pillars”—one in the area of theology, one in ethics, one in prayer, and one in worship—to constitute the vital teaching and worship ministry on which the North Korean church would stand or fall, by the grace of God. They committed to receive and pass on these fundamental historical Christian pillars even at the cost of their own lives, believing that anyone who professed, memorized, and lived by them would not only be able to endure the storm but also grow to full maturity in Christ.
Every one of these Christian leaders was ultimately martyred.
But wisdom is known by her children.
On September 23, 2013, the North Korean Underground Church will lead the church around the world in one hundred days of the worship of God in the common places. Each day for one hundred days, on through December 31, 2013, Christians around the world are invited to follow the lead of their North Korean Christian brothers and sisters to do what led to their persecution in the first place: Gather together in handfuls of two, three, or more believers for daily public worship in the common places of their life—their homes, schools, workplaces, parks, libraries, bus stops, and more–using the historic four pillars liturgy of the North Korean underground church.
These will be outwardly modest and unremarkable gatherings. There will be no megaphones, no shouting, no political messages, no recruitment, no voices of concern about the state of religious freedom in America. Neither will the liturgy be conducted in hushed whispers in private corners when no one else is watching.
Instead, in calmly expectant and reverent conversation, without effort to draw attention or deflect it, Christians will undertake the liturgy of the North Korean underground church, which is rooted in the liturgy of faithful Christians throughout history:
- The Apostles Creed (the pillar of theology)
- The Ten Commandments (the pillar of ethics), followed by confession of sin
- The Lord’s Prayer (the pillar of prayer)
- The public reading of the gospel of Luke, which has pride of place in the North Korean church as the first book of the Bible translated and distributed on the Korean peninsula
- And once each week during the hundred days, the Lord’s Supper (the pillar of worship), using elements consecrated by North Korean Christians and sent around the world for this 100 Days campaign
- The closing hymn—once a Christian song but later recast by Kim Il Sung to serve in the cult of his worship, the original has been recovered for the purpose of this 100 Days campaign
If you are interested in participating, here is what to do and what you can expect:
- Visit www.facebook.com/seoulusa for more information and to register
- Once you register you’ll receive a package by priority mail containing the 100 Days worship booklet and communion packages (one for each week of the campaign) consecrated by North Korean Christians. You’ll receive a password enabling you to view the inaugural worship service for the campaign, led by North Korean Christians. That password will enable you to participate in worship with them via special online worship times spread throughout the length of the campaign.
- Assemble your worship group. This is not a campaign for personal devotional time. In the spirit of partnership with our underground North Korean brothers and sisters, you must commit to public worship in the common places with at least one other person.
- Create your list of the common places you visit every day where your group will worship. This should include your home but also extend beyond it—to your workplace, the schools attended by group members and their families, the coffee shops you frequent, anywhere where you go on a regular basis. If the list compiled by your group includes less than one hundred locations, feel free to repeat locations or visit new ones. Avoid privatizing the experience or turning it into a publicity stunt. The purpose is to worship humbly in the common places, acknowledging Christ’s lordship over each one, embodying his presence in the world for which he died.
- Share your stories of what happened and post video and photographs of your worship at www.facebook.com/seoulusa to encourage others, including North Korean believers.
Expect opposition as you carry out this simple act of worshiping with others in the common places of your lives. North Korean Christians were not persecuted simply because of the private practice of the faith in their own homes. They were—and are—sentenced to death for their small acts of faithfulness to God in the common places of their world. The Apostle Paul, speaking to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, said that we should not expect anything different: Everyone who seeks to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Seoul USA is honored to share as the convening mechanism for this important event. Please visit us today at www.facebook.com/seoulusa to sign up for the 100 Days of Worship campaign and show your solidarity and partnership with the North Korean Underground Church.